Wednesday, May 9, 2012

At the home of the Shwe Shwe Poppis

We have a group of ladies who are part of this Facebook page 'Fun Fridays', so as the title suggests we do something FUN each FRIDAY.

Well, last week we went to Soweto, one of the oldest and biggest townships here in South Africa and we went to the home of the Shwe Shwe Poppis in a part called Zola. Remember that I talked about those cute little handmade dolls made of African Shwe Shwe fabric? I was and still am besotted about them!!

See right below is a drawing from one of the children and then the poppi that is made according to that drawing, how cute is that??
If you like to read more about the Shwe Shwe poppis see here, here and here to refreshen your memory since it was way back in 2008 when I first discovered them!

I always bought the fabric and poppies (dolls) in specialty stores, but this time we went with out Fun Friday group to the ladies who are making these dolls.

Sitting at a kitchen table in a small house is where all the magic happens!
We had so much fun and bought almost the whole inventory!! The ladies are sitting every day in a small house in Soweto sewing and creating these fab dolls one by one by hand. They kinda work in a sort of assembly line. One does the cutting of the fabrics and chooses the colors, then it goes to another person and she sews the body with a machine, then the doll goes to the lady who fills the doll with the stuffing, and then it goes to another lady who adds the detailing, stitching the eyes and other details like hair and eyes, ears etc.. on top of the dolls. So it goes at least through 4-5 hands before one doll is finished.
the Fun Friday group with our purchases, happy as a kid!!

Wandile is the general manager of the project, he was so nice to welcome and explain the program.

It is truly a handmade doll, from the beginning till the end and the BEST part is that the doll is created by little boys and girls, they made the original drawing and from that drawing the dolls are made.

It is totally cute, and such a great project! All the money that is made is going back to them! See below for  the explanation of the program that I plucked from their website.

These charming and imaginative fantasy figures are based on a series of original children’s drawings produced by the kids at the African Children’s Feeding Scheme’s Malnutrition and Rehabilitation Creche in Zola, Soweto. Lovingly hand-sewn by women from the community and inspired by stories from South African culture, these quirky, unique and sought-after creations are providing employment, education funding and a sense of pride and purpose for this Soweto community.

After the buying we went off to see the children at the Rehabillitation Creche to learn more about their feeding programme (more about that another day), but then we had to quickly come back to the house before going to a local lunch (more about that too later, don't miss this one! it was an adventure), since 2 of our group of ladies bought dolls that were still in the making earlier that morning.

Well, we came back with our van and the 2 quickly jumped out of the car to pick up their dolls, but the ladies at the house wanted to thank us all for buying so much poppies and a HUGE surprise was awaiting us!!

Singing their hearts out for us!

But dancing as well...

So much fun to see these ladies dancing and singing, we had a blast!

All of us together, the dancing and singing brought us closer together!
They lined us up in front of the house and started dancing and singing in this real AFRICAN way, it was amazing!! I was so humbled by their generous smiles, joyous singing and going out of their way to show us the dancing where the feet go high up in the air and stomping their foot on the ground, a traditional dance and song just to thank us! It was truly a magical experience to see these ladies, who are at least 50-55 years old and giving us this ritual dance. I instantly fell in love with these wonderful ladies and want to do more for them. These are the grandmothers or aunties of these young children who made the drawings and are trying to better their lives by sitting in this little house day by day hand sewing these dolls in hope for a better future for their grand children.

This was just the beginning of a truly special day, we had more surprises to expect, but those need their own blog post.

Keep watching this space... more exciting to come!
Have a great day!


Isis Natel said...

I had lots of tears comming from my eyes when I read about the ladies way to thank you! That´s the kind of attitude I´m looking for all the time: People helping people who/to help people!
Can´t wait to see the rest of the story!

Anonymous said...

love those dolls! So beautiful!
Did you know that in Burmese Shwe means gold?
So your dolls are the Gold Gold Dolls in Burmese.
How lovely!

Jen said...

This is awesome, Mirielle. Good for you helping them and such fun dolls. Bring one to the US for Ruby next time you are here and I'll buy it!


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